Ramirez Beaten by Chicago Auto Show "Security"
At the Chicago Automobile Trade Association Show in1980, a number of thugs began beating Ramirez and his employees in an attempt to keep Amectran's exhibit out of the show. Ramirez was later accused of hiring these men as a publicity stunt. Accusations made simply abetted and exacerbated negative rumors of criminal activity and a fraudulent electric car - innuendos spread by the Show's President, Ross E. Kelsey. WGN Television was near the scene and recorded the melee. Viewing the video tape, a television reporter recognized the ring leader attacking Ramirez and his employees as none other than Kelsey’s son – who also happened to be head of the Trade Show's security force.
Immediately upon making this discovery, WGN Television executives notified Mayor Jane Margaret Byrne, who ordered police officers to provide protection for all Amectran employees, as well as Ramirez's family. Police then moved Ramirez, his family and staff to one floor of the hotel and placed officers at his hotel door while assigning officers to his family members. An elevator was designated for use only by Ramirez, his family and his employees, with officers assigned to secure its use. Ramirez was asked by the Mayor to send his wife and three small children home as a result of safety concerns held by Chicago police: The family was escorted to the airport two days later and returned to Dallas.
Mayor Byrne further ordered that the Chicago Automobile Trade Association Show executives to immediately install the Amectran Exhibit or she would shut down the entire show. In a final attempt to circumvent the Mayor's order, the show's executives attempted to restrict Amectran's sales…to no avail. Amectran took in over 22,000 orders with down payments of $1000.00 each for its EXAR-1 Electric Automobile; one customer ordered seven cars, while several ordered two or more. When asked why, these customers said they knew the EXAR-1 would be a scarce product allowing them to arbitrage their orders and make sufficient profit to pay for their own automobiles. Amectran returned the $22,000,000.00 sometime later, when sufficient funds to build the factory could not be raised.
Threats of a riot began to flood radio and television stations. Ramirez had been the keynote speaker the previous evening, receiving Chicago's Hispanic Community's "Man of the Year Award". Thus news spread quickly throughout the Hispanic and Black community concerning the attempts made by Chicago Automobile Trade Show executives. Mayor Byrne sent a representative to ask Ramirez to appear on local radio and TV stations to assure the public that the Mayor would have the display in the show the following day.
Because of the injustice to Ramirez the communities perceived this was a race issue...even Ralph Abernathy appeared in Chicago to speak on behalf of Ramirez - moving the issue from fraud to race. Luckily, Ramirez was able to dispel the idea to riot. The EXAR-1 appeared the following day to crowds not seen at the show since the 1940’s. At times, it could take up to two hours to stand in line to see the car, while hundreds placed their orders.
No criminal action was ever taken against the Chicago Automobile Trade Show or their employees who attacked Ramirez and his employees: To protect himself and Amectran, Ramirez had been forced to hire the law firm of Friedman and Koven at a cost of $50,000.00 – it should be interesting to note that attorneys advised Ramirez that suing the show would gain nothing, as it was a non-profit organization and he would just be, "Pouring good money down a black hole." Also, that going after the attackers individually would result not only in substantial, additional legal expense, but requiring numerous personal appearances by Ramriez and some of his employees to testify in a Chicago court, while resulting in what they considered, nothing more than a slap-on-the-wrist for the defendants.